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ONWA Using Poetry Nights Province Wide to Raise Awareness and Affect Change

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Thunder Bay, ON – November 25th is the United Nations International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women #orangetheworld campaign and this is a call for all of us to step forward and take a stand against violence in our homes, in our communities, and in our systems – locally and globally. Violence against women has deep roots in many societies. We read, hear and speak of multiple acts of violence, from human trafficking to domestic assault, from police brutality to cyber-bullying, from systematic sexual assaults at Indian Residential Schools to the forced removal of babies from their mother’s arms as part of child welfare procedures; each of these violations harms and causes long-lasting pain and injury - and as a society, we must not ignore or worse, silence these voices.

As part of their work to address violence against Indigenous Women and Girls, the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) is hosting Poetry Nights at their chapters and offices across the province of Ontario this evening [on Monday, November 25th] in support of the United Nations International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women #orangetheworld campaign. ONWA is calling on all poets, storytellers, writers and spoken word artists to help raise awareness of violence against Indigenous Women and Girls. ONWA is committed to supporting those who wish to share their words expressing how this issue has touched their lives or the lives of someone they know. The poetry evenings offer community support and hope to those on their healing journey. Poetry nights are currently planned across the province from Kenora to Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Greenstone and Napanee to name just a few communities.

Part of the activities include an ongoing art project where participants dip their hands in orange and blue paint and press on a canvas to signify standing together to eliminate violence against women and girls. This project is called "Strong Hands Stop Violence", which is a joint name for the project and the poetry book. Province wide submissions are considered for ONWA’s annual publication highlighting poetry written by Indigenous women.

Poetry and other arts-based activities have found a necessary space within the context of healing. Perhaps it’s because we’re able to access different parts of ourselves as we strive to create and express. In the field of trauma, we have learned that the body stores our injuries. We know that trauma is passed down through the generations. And many of us have learned that ceremony and culture is vital to resolving an array of issues related to mental health and wellness.

In my work at CAMH, we have brought culture into the very heart of our services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients. With Ceremony Grounds on hospital campus, we are able to offer traditional healing through the use of our Medicine gardens, Sacred Fire and Sweat Lodge. As we walk with our people on the pathway to wellness, I am continually reminded of the importance of “lived experience” and the opportunities that we have to use voice to share our experiences, inspire healing and affect change in ourselves and others. Please join us today and stand with #orangetheworld in our collective efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Imagine the tears too often silenced by fear Imagine the tears too often silenced by disconnection Imagine the tears too often silenced because of repercussions Imagine the tears too often silenced because to use voice brings about more violence against self and Spirit Imagine the tears too often silenced become frozen traumatized wounded and rewounded and rewounded and rewounded These are the tears of Indigenous women and girls who carry the pain of ourselves and our ancestors Imagine the tears found voice Imagine what we would hear

Renee Linklater, PhD is a member of Rainy River First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. She has over 25 years of experience working with Indigenous healing agencies and First Nation communities. Renee has worked across the health and education sectors as a frontline worker, program evaluator, curriculum developer, educator/trainer, and researcher. She is an international speaker on trauma and healing and is the author of Decolonizing Trauma Work: Indigenous Stories and Strategies. Renee is the Director of Shkaabe Makwa at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and is actively involved in several system level initiatives across the province.

For more information, please contact:

Andre Morriseau, Communications Manager

Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA)

Phone: (647) 970-7661

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